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Numinosity: A Fractured Memoir

REVIEWS AND PRAISE:
Family History as Fiction

"As a reviewer I am often asked who my favorite writers are and because I actually know many of the people whose works I review, I always claim that I have no favorites. Rather, I have writers that I always look forward to hearing from especially when they tell me that have a new book and would like me to review it. One of those writers is Linda Morganstein, a writer who never ceases to surprise me. Last week I got an email from Morganstein telling me that she had a new book out and she said a few a words about it and then let a UTube video say the most. She did not ask me if I would review it; she simply announced that she had a new book. She may have assumed that I would ask her to send me a copy and I loved that there was no pressure put on me. Of course I wanted to review it and answered her immediately with a request for a copy. It arrived yesterday and I have been with the book ever since. (Linda, you never have to ask—just send the books). As both a fiction and mystery writer, Morganstein has drawn fascinating and real characters. In one of my reviews of another of her books, I wrote "that [her characters] are well defined and real. When I say real I mean that we can see ourselves in them." In her new book, "Numinosity", her characters are drawn from her family and herself and that is about as real as one can get. This is Morganstein's family history as a fictionalized memoir and the entire book is very clever. Morganstein has thrown traditional formatting out of the window and gives us a book modeled on the old "Life" magazine. Size wise it is about half the size of a coffee table book but certainly not the size of books that we are used to reading. It is filled with photographs and blurbs and I soon found myself tearing up about some of the memories it raises.

 

The content comes from Morganstein's "eccentric family history" but written as a fictionalized memoir. Divided into six chapters, we have articles written by invented personalities (all of whom are the author herself). Like a magazine, there are ads on many pages but what is advertised are products of the author's mind (and great fun). Morganstein parodies consumerism with ads for "NYX Ballbuster" cigarettes and "Nadir" televisions. There is something special on every page making this one of the "funnest" books I have ever read or even held in my hands.

 

It does not tale long to realize that this is a book about "the relationship of humor and tragedy in art" and that if we are going to leave the past behind us we must take a look at what was and fashion it into its own story which will be a tragicomedy. By consciously laughing and crying about the past, we liberate ourselves from it.

 

I was reminded when I was a young religious school student at my synagogue in New Orleans and we began to read the Hebrew bible. One of the major Jewish publishing houses put out a comic book edition of the Five Books of Moses and we were all given a copy. The rabbi knew that the best way to get his students to understand was to make the read fun for them and this was the age of Archie and Veronica who we soon saw as Samson and Delilah. This is how we learned— reading a comic book about the patriarchs (for us there were not yet matriarchs back then) and I grew to love the Bible stories in the comic book that I kept next to my bed. In effect, that is what Linda Morganstein has done here. She gives us an illustrated biography that is fun to read and like those Bible stories, I am not likely to forget it. She has torn down the barriers between genres, stood literature on its head and shows us how to have fun as we read. Here is "visual/verbal" art that has a message of seriousness. I now will replace my own Bible comic book with "Numinosity" on the bed table next to where I sleep and I am pretty sure that I will read it as many times as I read about Moses parting the sea."
--Amos Lassen, respected reviewer of books, movies, and Judaica

 

Advanced praise for Numinosity: A Fractured Memoir

 

"Linda Morganstein's Numinosity: A Fractured Memoir creates a whole new genre—a visual/verbal art form—that surprises and delights the reader with every turn of the page. The book is smart and funny, but also filled with an underlying seriousness that will take you to the depths of your resources and imagination."
--Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of Iowa

 

"If Life and Mad magazines had a child it would be Morganstein's Numinosity. But, her's is funnier – and often darker. The book challenges the reader to examine their own past - and compare it to a life story that seems unbelievable, but is as absolutely true as it is creatively re-imagined. I had the great privilege of working with Linda Morganstein as this triumph of faith was shepherded from a sculptural installation to its current form: a genre-busting memoir that deftly blends the original visual and written elements into one creative powerhouse.


Morganstein's memoir takes creative non-fiction to a whole new level. It skates on that razor thin edge between truth and fabrication. Even her magazine's "product placements" – satirical ads for imaginary goods and services – have a sharp grain of truth in them and are almost as ridiculous as their real-world counterparts."
--Jill Waterhouse, internationally exhibited sculptor and artist's mentor

 

"Morganstein provides a clever new way to tell her life story through a creative combination of written word and visual narrative. 'Life' Magazine is an evident theme, with detailed and professional quality layouts, personal family photos, biographical stories, and satirical advertisements. The honesty of her story makes this multifaceted book a page turner, sharing difficult times, delicate moments, fun adventures and true humor. Numinosity is one of the most approachable and creative ways to tell an autobiography I have experienced, in a format that anyone would be interested in exploring."   
–Kate Renee, professional artist and art business consultant

Publications

 

 Numinosity: A Fractured Memoir, a memoir and cultural commentary. NuminosityWorks Press. October, 2017

 

Girls In Ice Houses, a novel. Regal Crest. March, 2015

 

Ordinary Furies, a mystery novel. The first in a series featuring Alexis Pope, self-defense instructor. Spinsters Ink. April 2007

 

Harpies' Feast, a mystery novel. The second in a series featuring Alexis Pope, self-defense instructor. Regal Crest. February 2011

 

On A Silver Platter, a mystery novel. The third in a series featuring Alexis Pope, self-defense instructor. Regal Crest. September 2011

 

My Life With Stella Kane, a novel. Regal Crest. March, 2009

 

Second-Hand Smoke, a short story. Fine Print '96. Printed in conjunction with the Authors in the Park Festival. Winter Park, Florida. October 1996

 

This World of Light and Darkness, a short story. Audre Lord Memorial Prose Contest Winner. Sponsored by Woman-in-the-Moon Publications. 1993

 

My Moses Story, a short story. American Fiction. Birch Lane Press, 1993 

 

The Elements of Mourning, a long poem. Negative Capability (awards issue). Number 3, 1992

 

Pearl Street, a short story. One Meadway, a literary journal associated with Sarah Lawrence College. Spring issue, 1992

 

Queen of Cups, a short story. Ethos, ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Magazine. November, 1990

 

 

Awards

American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest. Quarter-finalist. Girls In Ice Houses, a film script based on the novel Girls In Ice Houses by Linda Morganstein. December, 2015

 

WildSound Festival. Staged professional reading of a scene from a television pilot by Linda Morganstein, based on the novel My Life With Stella Kane by Linda Morganstein. February, 2016

 

Communicator Award (scriptwriting and marketing writing). Understanding Your Hysterectomy, a videotape and accompanying brochure. Produced by Cogent Communications through an unrestricted educational grant provided by Berlex Laboratories. November, 2000

 

Telly Award (scriptwriting and associate producing). Understanding Your Hysterectomy, a videotape. Produced by Cogent Communications through an unrestricted educational grant provided by Berlex Laboratories. November, 1999

Bronze Award (scriptwriting and associate producing). Understanding Your Hysterectomy, a videotape. Prix Leonardo International Festival (Parma, Italy). Produced by Cogent Communications through an unrestricted educational grant provided by Berlex Laboratories. December, 1999 

 

In-Awe Bronze Award (script and marketing writing). Understanding Your Hysterectomy, a videotape and accompanying brochure. Medical Marketing Association. Produced by Cogent Communications. November, 1999

 

Emerging Writer Award. Astrea Foundation. $11,000 grant. Fall, 1992 (Judge: Dorothy Allison)

 

Iowa State University Research Excellence Award. Catskill Stories, a collection of short stories comprising a master's thesis. Spring, 1991 (Major professor and nominator: Jane Smiley)

 

Will C. Jumper Award for excellence in creative writing. English Department, Iowa State University. Spring, 1991

 

Pearl Hogrefe Grant-in-Aid for excellence in creative writing. English Department, Iowa State University. Spring, 1991

 

Critical Writing Award for excellence in academic writing. English Department, Iowa State University. Spring, 1990

 

Pearl Hogrefe Fellowship in Creative Writing. Iowa State University. For the academic year 1989-90